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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Defining biological meaning

Here's my provisional definition of the concept of meaning within the life sciences (submitted ahead of Gatherings in biosemiotics 9, to be arranged in Prague - where there will be an open roundtable discussion on this very topic):
"It is the meaning-ful character of the encounter between physical, organic bodies and the material externalization of their life worlds that mediates between the inner and the outer, the self and the world."

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Tolerant Tartu

I have joined the Tolerant Tartu Advocacy Network (Tolerantse Tartu eestkostevõrgustik).

According to its mission statement, the network "support, enhance and promote societal, cultural and scientific activities in Estonia, specifically in Tartu."
The general aim of the project „Tolerant Tartu Advocacy Network" is to develop a model of Tartu as a city of tolerance where people enjoy living together, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, and other personal characteristics."
The project is funded by "Sihtasutus Kodanikuühiskonna Sihtkapital" (KÜSK) - The National Foundation of Civil Society, and organized under Domus Dorpatensis. Events for the coming year here.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Climate synthesis report

The synthesis report from the conference 'Climate Change: Global risks, challenges and decisions' (Copenhagen, March 2009) has been published. It is written by Nicholas Stern, Daniel M. Kammen, Katherine Richardson and nine others.
It is based on the 16 plenary talks given at the Congress as well as input from over 80 chairs and co-chairs of the 58 parallel sessions held at the Congress.
The preface refers to the proceedings, where my abstract 'The nature view held by environmentalists: Attitudes in the Norwegian environmental establishment' is included, among 1,400 others. "Most of the approximately 2500 people attending the Congress were researchers, many of whom have also been contributors to the IPCC reports. Participants came from nearly 80 different countries" (I was there as the only representative from Estonia).

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

10th World Congress of Semiotics - Big Bad Wolf accepted

I have been informed that my submission "The Changing Imagery of the Big Bad Wolf" has been accepted for the 10th World Congress of Semiotics, to be arranged in A Coruña, Spain, September 22-26. My presentation will take place September 25th.

A written version, to be submitted to the congress proceedings, will be prepared within October 15th.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Academic news in brief III: Attested, revised, and wild

1. The annual attestation review for doctoral students at Department of Semiotics will take place this Friday. Last Thursday I submitted my 6 pp. Attestation review for the academic year 2008-2009 (with a 'Revised plan of study and research' for the academic year 2009-2010 included).

2. The Journal of Environmental philosophy has responded to my submission 'Notes toward a natural history of the phenomenal world', which they want me to re-submit in a partly rewritten form. I am currently studying the naturalization of phenomenology.

3. The anthology now entitled 'Environment, embodiment and history', to be edited by Johannes Servan (University of Bergen) and Ane Faugstad Aarø (Hermes Text/UiB) moves forward. Of 10 confirmed contributors so far, I am the most Junior one.

"The anthology will have a theoretical approach that is grounded in phenomenology, but we welcome contributions from various theoretical schools that will address, criticize or discuss the phenomenological tradition within the questions of environment and embodiment."

My contribution might concern both the conception of an Uexküllian phenomenology and my work with Scandinavian wolf management. The editors are further challenging me to address the topic of 'wildness' in its relation to taming, control and domination.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Poster presentation in Tallinn in October

My submission to the Tallinn October 22-24 conference 'Spatiality, memory and visualisation of culture/nature relationships: theoretical aspects', 'Mapping Human Impact: Ecological Footprint vs. Ontological Niche', has been accepted by the organizing committee as a poster presentation.
In this presentation I will compare my ecosemiotic concept of a human ontological niche with the concept of an ecological footprint, with respect to how either of these can be applied as tools in mapping human impact in nature.
This will be my second poster presentation, following March's 'The nature view held by environmentalists. Attitudes in the Norwegian environmental establishment'.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Proceedings from World Congress, Helsinki/Imatra

The 9th IASS World Congress Proceedings is reported to be in preparation, and expected to appear in July, as part of the publication series Acta Semiotica Fennica (ASF). They will include my text 'Where I end and you begin: The threshold of the self and the intrinsic value of the phenomenal world' (wherein my pointed critique of the semioethics as phrased by Susan Petrilli appears).

Monday, 8 June 2009

First ISI Web of Science publication

"The statistician's guide to Utopia: The future of growth" is listed as an ISI Web of Science publication, since TRAMES is now indexed by them.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

First semioethics interview

This Sunday I finished 'The Semioethics Interviews I: John Deely / 'Tell me, where is morality bred?'" (31 pp. manuscript), submitted to Hortus Semioticus.

Contents:
A whole new beginning for ethics?
A call for moral treatment
Agents and their subjects (and their needs)
An explicit account of otherness (or: a pretty good reason for hitting someone)
“You may recognize otherness and still shoot the guy”
Kalevi Kull on why good is to be done
Dog with puppies vs. mafia chieftain
Illegitimate semiosis
An animal nevertheless (a being of Gaia)
Becoming a semiotic animal
Semioethics: A household word
A revolutionary of sorts

My question to Umberto Eco on science and fiction

The University of Tartu has published a complete video of Umberto Eco's lecture in Tartu May 6th, 'On the Ontology of Fictional Characters: a Semiotic Study'. My question - and Eco's subsequent answer - is to be found in the interval 01:11:25 - 01:14:15.

The transcript reads:
MT My name is Morten Tønnessen, I’m a PhD student at Department of Semiotics. And – you talked about the difference between physical existence and fictional existence. And I would like you to say something about what role fiction can be said to play within natural science, or applied science.

UE No... No, I missed ... the real question.

MT Let me finish. First, it’s obvious of course that imagination and creativity are fundamental traits of humans in many walks of life. And often in applied science, we start out with imagining something that does not exist – it’s totally mind-dependent; and then we carry it into life. So it actually turns into something with a physical existence. Isn’t that the work of fiction?

UE No! I... Take, for instance the cold fusion. Typical example of a scientific hoax. It was untrue. I don’t say that fiction is mistake – which is different. Ptolemy believed in good faith the Earth was still immobile, huh? – and the Sun turned. It was not making fiction – it was committing a mistake. Simple and believed. I say that there is fiction when the author pretends to say the truth, and asks you to pretend that you are believing it. In this case you are in a fictional world. If not, it’s a lie. If I tell you there is an elephant outside, and you naively go out to see whether it is there or not, that is not a case of fiction, I am only a damn liar, that’s all. And you are too much naive, hehe. Except, you are not Thomas Aquinas, because it seems that ... comrades told him, because he was only studying, huh? – 'Thomas, there is an ass flying on the skies', and... (mimics Thomas looking to the skies:) Uh? He went out to look, and, there was not... they laughed: Ahaha... And he said, ‘I believed it was more, very similar... that there was an ass flying.’ Then the monk lied, ehehehe...

Comment: Eco's definition of fiction, that "there is fiction when the author pretends to say the truth, and asks you to pretend that you are believing it", is fine. His counterexamples, however, do not appear to have anything to do with my question, where I talk about fiction (within science) as having to do with something first imagined and then made into be (as a physical existent). Eco's examples concerns either a) mistaken scientific theories or b) Lies/jokes. Whether those qualify as 'fiction' is a separate issue.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Most viewed at Scribd

Most viewed as of June 2nd, 2009 (Feb. 11th in parenthesis)

1 (1) The Statistician's Guide to Utopia: The Future of growth 443 (255 = +188)
2 (2) Umwelt ethics 317 (166 = +151)
3 (3) Historieløst om klima 204 (110 = +94)
4 (4) Hvem har ansvaret for volden? 177 (102 = +75)
5 (4) SemioPhenomenon poster 166 (102 = +64)
6 (up) Must Naine Tartus 152
7 (-) Steps to a Semiotics of Being 151 (0 = +151)

Latest additions: CV, Preludium til romanen HUFF, 'The Nature View Held by Environmentalists' abstract/poster. For a full list of my uploaded documents, see here. For a previous post on views on Scribd, see here.